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Bush judicial nominees ask to withdraw
Kansas City.com
Associated Press
January 9, 2007

WASHINGTON - In a concession to the Senate's new Democratic majority, President Bush won't rename four controversial federal appeals court nominees whose confirmations were blocked last year, Republican officials said Tuesday.

William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House's decision, according to an ally.

Haynes is the Pentagon's top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush's now-abandoned policy toward treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been tapped for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Boyle is a federal judge in North Carolina, and his appointment to the 4th Circuit provoked opposition from Democrats who cited his rulings in civil rights and disability cases, as well as his higher-than-average reversal rate by higher courts.

Myers, nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sparked opposition from environmentalist organizations and their allies among Senate Democrats.

Wallace's appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and the American Bar Association.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said only "consensus nominees" are likely to win confirmation under the new Democratic majority - a declaration that effectively doomed the chances for the four men whose appointments were left in limbo when the Senate adjourned last year for the elections.

Deputy White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president was disappointed about the withdrawals.

"Each of these nominees was well-qualified to serve as judges and would have been confirmed if they had been given a fair, up-or-down vote in the Senate," Perino said. "Unfortunately, a few selected senators prevented these nominees from receiving fair consideration. The president is disappointed in this inaction, and hopes that the days of judicial obstructionism are beyond us."

One Senate Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, issued a statement saying, "This reversal is one of the first tangible signs that the president heard and is heeding the message from Novembers election."

But Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, countered for conservatives. "In support of their own agenda of liberal judicial activism, Senate Democrats have engaged in unprecedented measures of obstruction against the president's highly qualified nominees," he said.

Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submitted a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president's intentions.

Several Republican officials said the White House was likely to make the announcement later in the day.

They said Bush also intends to appoint 33 other judicial nominees, including three whose appointments were not acted on by the Senate in 2006.

The officials who described the developments did so on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt a formal announcement.

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